Category Archives: Construction

Post #23: The Frame & Window Game

Hey all! Long time and no post, huh? My apologies, as I know you’ve been holding your breath, right? But I hope all is well with all of you!!! It’s been an incredibly busy late fall and early winter, but there is lots to report on in regards to the farmhouse. We hit the huge milestone of completing framing last week (yay!) Now it’s on to less exciting, but still very critical things, like installation and HVAC. But here’s a recap of how framing went…Oh! We have windows now too (so pretty!)

 

Our framing crew started in late September. September 26th to be exact, which was exactly one month after George, Walker and David started framing in the workshop. First, they prepped the foundation with installation and support boards. Then came a layer of plywood.

Then the walls started going up…

 

Along the way, we had a crane day, where metal support beams were installed to ensure structural integrity.

Then more walls went up. As they finished them, the walls were wrapped in plywood sheathing. (In the above photo, the framed in garage bays are on the left, the great room portion of the home is in the center, and the start of the bonus room wing is on the right. Also included is David’s truck “Rosie” who has spent lots of time being a delivery truck these past few months, picking up everything from lumber to lunches and the like…)

 

By mid-October, it was time for the crew to move onward and upward and start framing the 2nd story of the farmhouse. As you may recall, the second story only runs along the east side of the house. Here will be a loft, a laundry room and the master suite.(The start of the attic space above the garage.)

(View from the master bedroom.)

 

By early November, things got all sorts of technical, as they installed the roof trusses in the great room. Our head framer, Julian, had the ingenious idea of having the crew build the trusses on the ground ahead of time, and then they were installed them with the help of a crane.

The 60 foot header beam to anchor the 2nd story roof was also installed via crane.

Once the main beam was installed the roof could be framed out.

 

Next, it was time to start structural steel work on the silo and focus efforts on framing the bonus room wing. (Do you like how Walker is wearing shorts in mid-November? It was a wonderfully and abnormally warm fall this year in Colorado, which made framing so much easier than having to do it in freezing temperatures!)

 (The rings were welded into place on site and then raised up via forklift.)

 

Next came framing work on the clear story portion of the great room (the row of windows that pop up from the top of the roof.)

Also during this time, our concrete crew came back to pour slabs for the the posts for the front and back porches, the patio off of the dog room (yes, our dogs are getting their own patio…) and the 2 fireplaces.(This is the foreman of the concrete crew, Omar. After claiming to not know what work or a wheelbarrow was, David, George, and Walker made him reluctantly pitch in one afternoon…)

 

By mid-November, we had windows going in. We went with options from the Integrity line and the Ultimate line of Marvin Windows. All of the windows are black on the outside and white on the inside, except for the ones in the bonus room. (Those are black on the outside and stained wood on the inside.) We had a tough time choosing between Marvin windows and Kolbe windows, but Marvin’s offering of 2 lines of windows to choose from that you can easily mix and match for cost savings, won out in the end. Because at the end of the day, there are certain windows you are going to spend lots of time looking out of and then there’s a window like the one below in the guest bedroom bathroom that going to give someone a view while they brush their teeth maybe 5 times a year. Sorry guest bathroom window! We still love you all the same! Also our window rep, Bobby was and continues to be exceptional to work with!

We also (finally) got our first snow of the season on November 19th.

 

By December, the crew started installing the amazingly crafted timber beams that Walker had spent weeks putting together onto the front and back porches. (Needless to say, I think Walker was excited about his handiwork!)(SOOOOO gorgeous!)

Our silo also got it’s wooden top, and our fireplace and chimney was framed out. (Our head framer, Julian, once again saved us time and money with his quick, ingenious thinking. Instead of having to rent another crane and operator to install the centerpiece [a.k.a. “the nuclear warhead,” as the guys called it,] into place, Julian decided to try hoisting it with this manual lift that we’d rented to help lift Walker’s timber frame beams into place. Success!)

Christmas came early and on December 22nd, the windows I’ve so been looking forward to were installed – the huge windows will run along the stairs leading from the first floor to the second floor and the windows on the north side of the great room.

Our plywood roof was covered in weathershield wrap to protect it from the elements and prepare it for the actual metal roof (to be installed later on,) but apparently it couldn’t hold up to the 90 mph wind gusts that we had on Christmas day, as some of it blew away! But it’s only money, right? 🙂

After Christmas, we got even more presents, as we had the huge, glass sliding doors installed in the great room.

The new year of 2017 was ushered in with some brutal cold and more winds, but we had windows installed in the clearstory. (The branch you see on the chimney is an old, Dutch building tradition. Walker placed a branch on both the workshop and the farmhouse, explaining that “A branch on top of a newly standing structure represents good fortune and fortitude for not only the building, but it’s inhabitants, as well. It’s an ancient tradition of good blessings.”) 

 

After wrapping up some lingering odds and ends for the next 2 weeks (minus several days where it was too cold or too windy to work,) the last piece of sheathing was put into place in mid-January. (Before finishing work for the day, Eric, one of our framers, paid homage to his home country on the garage roof. Unfortunately, it dumped about 10 inches of snow in the next 24 hours, so his shout out was soon buried in fresh powder.)

With the exception of having the windows in the silo, the garage doors in the garage, and a front door in the front, we’re all closed in for the winter. (The final piece goes on…)

And that ladies and gentleman, is a wrap on framing and windows!

I’ll try to keep the blog posts coming more frequently now. We’re getting to so much good stuff now, and I appreciate you all following along!

 

‘Til next time,

Kim

 

 

 

 

 

Post #21: Construction Updates or “There Is No Progress Unless You Make a Mess”

This quote by Tanya Radic pretty much sums up how things have been progressing at the farmhouse over the last month:

there-is-no-progress-unless-you-make-a-mess

After what seemed like nothing short of sluggish progress in the 2 months prior, the month of August and early September has certainly made up for lost time! Tons have happened and much of it all at the same time! Our property now often resembles a parking lot there are so many people there accomplishing different tasks on any given day. It’s a beautiful mess of dirt flying, machine engines running, nail guns firing, and it’s all so exciting! I can’t help but hope this momentum continues!

Here’s what’s been shakin’:

Concrete Work:

If you can recall from my last blog post, we’d finished with the foundation walls, but things had sat idle for long enough that weeds were now growing where our floors would one day go…

weeds2weeds1

Thankfully, that’s been addressed by our handy concrete crew. They dug out all the extra dirt from areas where needed, as well as leveled out, insulated and poured concrete floors for the garage and workshop.

concrete17floor-pouring-august1 floor-pouring-august-9 Hard at work on David’s workshop…

floor-pouring-august10floor-pouring-august7Future garage and mudroom…

Additionally they leveled out and graveled the floor of what will be the crawl space below our home. In time this will be insulated with a plastic barrier and spray foam insulation, so it will be as dry and sealed as if we did a basement down there. The crew also poured concrete pads that will support structural steel.floor-pouring-august-8

 

Structural Steel:

Another crucial update to the farmhouse structure has been the installation of structural steel. As mentioned above, some of the steel has been anchored to the concrete pads poured in what will be the floor of our crawl space. Other steel beams run across the farmhouse foundation to support what will be built above it.structural-steel1structural-steel2structural-steel4

 

Plumbing:

Another important task that has now been crossed off the never ending “to do” list was to install plumbing for the farmhouse and workshop. This task was completed by Quick’s Hoe Service (not sure if the name is supposed to be a joke or not.) Quick’s dog Pinto was the crew’s supervisor for this job. He even rode on the heavy equipment used to dig the trenches, SO cute!pinto-the-hoe-service-dog Trenches were dug and pipes were laid to connect plumbing to the farmhouse and workshop to the water and sewer tap that was actually located under the pavement in the street. So of course, this meant disrupting traffic for a bit to tap into everything. Everything went well though!

plumbing4 plumbing3plumbing2 As David quite crassly, but rather hysterically, pointed out to friends when showing them this picture, “This is where my poop will go…”

plumbing1So this part got a little bit dicey. Remember how high our water table is out at the farmhouse site? (It’s dig down 3 feet and you’ll have a stream in no time high.) In order to accommodate plumbing in the workshop, and not have plumbing running underneath what will someday be the driveway to the right of this photo, the crew had to carefully dig their trenches right around the base of the workshop. Of course the trenches started filling up immediately with water, to the point that everyone started freaking out that the workshop foundation might slide in. Of course it worked out just fine, but David (who never gets stressed out) said that it was terrifyingly stressful! Good thing that Pinto was supervising the job, right?

sewer-tap  Why does everyone look so concerned?sewer-tap1sewer-tap2sewer-tap3  Success!

In addition to water, we are also happy to report that there is now temp. power at the job site! This means no more running of generators to power things! Now there are just endless tangles of extension cords running from the temp. power main to various parts of the site.

power

Framing & Workshop Supports:

Our contractor George (on the right-hand side in the photo below,) trusted right-hand man Walker (on the left-hand side in the photo below,) and David (not pictured) began the exciting process of framing the workshop 3 weeks ago. I know that I owe you a more detailed post on the plans for the workshop, so I promise to get that out soon! But in the meantime, here are how things are taking shape…workshopframe1  workshop-framing3Day one of framing. From left to right: Walker Melzer, David Harrison and George Harrisonworkshop-framing4  Walls are in place…

workshop-hardware                                                                                          To reinforce and strengthen the workshop walls, a cabling system was installed within the walls themselves. It’s too bad that all of this cool cabling will be hidden behind drywall eventually, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes…

 

Final Excavation & Backfill Work:

As you may or may not recall, there used to be an enormous mound of fill dirt towards the back of the property. The property’s previous owner had brought the dirt in in anticipation of building here. On top of the fill dirt that was already on the property, the crews added extensively to the mounds while digging the foundation and the plumbing trenches. A fair amount of the mound was used as backfill to even things out and bring dirt up closer to the foundation again once it was completed. The remaining dirt was then flattened and leveled out to give us a big, beautiful blank slate of a back yard. Can’t wait to fill it in with grass and all sorts of fun stuff!pic-of-mound-august Before: Part of what the mound in our future backyard looked like.

no-more-moundAfter: No more mound. David and his Dad walk the blank slate, September 4, 2016

 

Roof Trusses:

Most recently, with the framing on the workshop now complete, the roof trusses (or supports) were installed on Friday (with the help of a big, huge crane, of course.) All in all, it’s looking great!

crane1crane3trusses3trusses4 trusses1 trusses2

Thanks for reading and following along on our progress! It’s been a fun, but crazy busy summer with the farmhouse and other parts of life. Here’s hoping for a bit of a slow down this fall, so I can do a better job of keeping you all informed on the progress and up-to-date on the design.

Best,

Kim

Post #20: Construction Update, a.k.a. “The Dog Days of Summer”

Sorry kids, it’s been awhile. I hope you are all doing well, and I appreciate you coming back to read after a few weeks off from blogging.

It certainly has been the “dog days of summer” around these parts as of late. The strong Colorado sunshine has made temperatures well into the mid to upper 90’s for well over a month and rain has been sporadic. The earth seems slow and lethargic, but life outside of home building has been anything but, so I apologize again for the lack of posts as of late.

The good news is that you haven’t missed much in regards to construction updates, as it would appear that our home building adventure has also been suffering from the “dog days of summer,” with progress being very, very S-L-O-WWWWW! Oh well, thank goodness this isn’t a race, and as the U.S. Olympic gold medalist sprinter, Harrison “Bones” Dillard exclaimed after finally winning a coveted gold medal at the 1952 Helsinki games, “Good things come to those who wait.” (Although I always found it pretty ironic that a sprinter said this…)

Anyway, in the last 5 weeks…

The foundation has been sealed and insulated and drains have been installed…

seal and foundation

 

And backfill has been completed. As you may recall, we hit water after only a few feet of digging when trying to first do our foundation. This lead to the decision to raise the farmhouse up a few feet more in order to avoid future water problems. In attempts to not have what might appear to look like a farmhouse on stilts, the crew brought in backfill. Backfill is basically bringing loads of dirt back up to the foundation to even out the look….

Before backfill from the front:

foundation2

After backfill from the front:

backfill front back fill with Roz (Such a cute little doggie! Roswell is literally in his “dog days of summer,” too…)

 

Before backfill from the silo:

foundation prep3

foundation3

After backfill from the silo:backfill silo

 

 

Next steps will be to do the initial plumbing, structural steel work, and bringing in temporary electricity.

In closing, I leave you with this thought… You know you must be progressing on your farmhouse very slowly when your foundation dirt starts to grow weeds…

weeds1weeds2

 

Wishing you all a  a wonderful weekend ahead!!! (Cooler temperatures in store for Denver this weekend! Can’t wait!!!)

 

Thanks so much for reading!

-Kim

 

Post #17: Foundation Updates

Just wanted to share an construction update with you all. Lots going on at the job site and in life, so I apologize for the delay in postings!

About 3 weeks ago, we got the green light to pour the footers for the foundation:

footers1

In super simple terms, the footers are basically a concrete base that your home’s foundation goes on top of. When you’re done pouring footers, it looks like a small strip of concrete has outlined the footprint of your home (from the surface anyway.)

The next step was for our trusted concrete crew to place the molds around the footers that the concrete is then poured into to make the foundation walls.

footers3

The end result looks like this:

foundationprep1

foundationprep2

foundation prep3

After taking a break for the Memorial Day weekend, the crew was back at it, and 2 weeks ago they poured the foundation for the farmhouse.

foundationwork1

crew1

The large crane-like thing you see in the above photos takes the concrete from the truck and shoots it out from a hose into the molds surrounding the footers to form the concrete foundation walls. Six trucks of concrete later, the end result looks like this:

foundation3 The living room and bonus room

foundation4 Where the front door will go

foundation2 A larger view of the front of the house

foundation1 David’s workshop

While the foundation sits to firm up before work can resume, we’re scrambling to find framers (the ones we had lined up fell through because of our earlier delays,) and also sourcing bids on sewer work. We also hope to have a final decision on windows made by week’s end. Definitely keeping busy!!!

 

-Kim

 

Post #16: Breaking Ground is More Complicated Than Digging a Hole in the Dirt…

So roughly four weeks ago, we finally broke ground on the farmhouse. (Yay!!!) However, it apparently seems that there is a lot more to breaking ground than simply digging a hole in the dirt. Early spring snow and rain has held things up a bit, but that’s to be expected this time of year. It is Colorado after all. (On a side note, did anyone else living in the Colorado front range notice that this was the first Mother’s Day in three years where it hasn’t snowed?)

Ok, so I may be oversimplifying this, but here’s what’s been happening out at the property…

So apparently there are all sorts of things that you need to do before you can start the serious digging. Like an erosion plan. I found this humorous, since our property is as flat as the day is long, so it’s highly unlikely that any soil erosion would ever occur. Regardless, if the county says you have to do it, then you have to do it.

So your crew goes in and adds a super stylish black tarp fence around your property:

erosion fence

Then they pour a temporary stone driveway (visible in the center of this photo):

temp drive

Then they get a port-a-potty on site:

potty

Then the inspector stops by and signs off on everything. (Yay!) Now the crew can move forward…

Next, they stake everything off according to the site plan, so they’ll know where the walls of the house will be.

view of garage (This is where the garage will be, one day.)

Then they start grading so the land is perfectly level. (This involves all sorts of fancy lasers and tripods, so it’s all sorts of perfect.)

grading work

elevation 5500 ft.(The elevation of our house will be 5,500 feet above sea level.)

Then they start digging. The plan was to dig down 2 feet 11 inches for the crawl space. This is what happened when they got to the 2 foot mark:

hitting waterWe knew the water table was high in the area (meaning that you didn’t have to go down very far before you hit water,) but we were under the impression that we’d have at least 6 feet. You’d never guess that Colorado is a dry state, now would you? Since we’d highly prefer not to have a swimming pool in our crawl space, Plan B was devised. The new plan was to dig down 1 foot 11 inches for the crawl space and subsequently raise the house up another foot to compensate. (On a side note, the water level quickly retreated over the course of that week too. Good!)

Once Plan B went into effect, the crew graded everything, dug down, leveled it again, and laid boards in place to contain the concrete that will be poured to form the footers for the house:

ready to pour footers

A visit from the Surveyor a week ago, revealed that the crew hadn’t actually dug down far enough and the location of the footers was going to be off by a little bit.

So the crew spent last week pulling everything up, re-grading, re-digging, re-leveling, and correcting the footer location. On Friday, everyone discovered that while locations were corrected, things were still not dug deep enough. Want to know why this kept happening? After all this, it was because of a discrepancy between the civil engineer’s drawings and our architect’s drawings. Whoops! Instead of having the crew pull everything up for a third time to correct it (and incur a $3,500 change order fee,) we’re just going to make it work, as is.

So after what will hopefully prove to be a “thumbs up” inspection by the county later today, the crew can start pouring the footers. After that, the foundation walls can go up and we’ll be on our way… (fingers crossed that is!) If we had a set schedule on this whole building thing, I’d say we’re behind, but this is all a process folks. It’s important not to lose sight of that, for sure! 🙂

David, Chico, Zeke and I are heading out in the Minnie Winnie for a trip to Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde today. Poor ‘ol Roswell busted up his knees and has been ordered to two weeks of R&R and drugs by the vet. So he’ll be sitting this trip out and will be spoiled rotten all week by David’s doting cousin, Teresa. I can’t wait to update you all on the progress of the house, as well as share our travel adventures with you, once we get back though! Til then, be well!

 

Kim

Post #9: Demo Day

This past Friday, big things happened out at the property. For the first time in 17 months, our property became more than just a private dog park for our pups. We had Demo Day!

Actual ground breaking was scheduled for today (Monday, April 18th,) so it was time for the main shed on the property to come down. I’ve grown quite fond of this shed. It was a simple wooden beam loafing shed covered in corrugated steel, that used to serve as shelter for the horses that lived in the pasture that is now our property.

shed in snow

(A photo of the loafing shed in the center of our property from earlier this year.)

The other two sheds on the property range from unsightly to creepy, as in I fear dead bodies are stored in the one at the back of the property. Of course that’s not true, but still, the thing freaks me out! We’ll just leave it at that…The unsightly shed at the front of the property is unsightly only because it’s plywood exterior has faded over the years to a splintery gray color, but I was pleased to find that along with some incredibly large hornet’s nests some bad ass painted wood boards have been stored inside it. I’d love to find a spot where I could incorporate these boards into the the farmhouse’s design someday.

Shed Demo1

(The creepy shed on the property can be seen in this photo. It’s the tan/peach structure in the back.)

The unsightly shed and the creepy shed will stay for now, but both will eventually come down. The corrugated steel shed stood where our future living room will be, so it needed to be dismantled so excavation for the foundation could get underway.

David tackled the job with some help from his brother (and our contractor) George and his friend (and fellow woodworker with a solid construction background) Walker.

Shed Demo7 - the crew

(The Demo Crew)

Not bad for a day’s work, huh?

Shed Demo2

Shed Demo4

Shed Demo3

(Yes, our property also came with an old cement mixer and a pile of railroad ties, shown to the right of the shed.)

Shed Demo6

Shed Demo5

(Apparently there’s been a kiddie pool in the shed this whole time and we never knew about it! Had we only known sooner!!! What fun we could have had!)

Shed Demo8

Shed Demo9

Shed Demo10

Shed Demo11-Montage

A representative from North Table Mountain Water & Sanitation District also stopped by on Friday, as they needed to record where our sewer and other utilities were located for their records. (Our property’s pervious owner had put in the sewer tap several year’s ago.) For anyone intrigued by seeing what a country sewer looks like, here you go:

Sewer2

By Friday evening, it had started to rain. By late Friday night, it turned to snow. And by late on Sunday, we had about 10 inches of snow on the ground. Thankfully we got less snow than the 12-18 inches that was forecasted, but still ground breaking was called off for today 🙁 While all of the snow should melt in the next few days or so, we’ll just have to wait and see how long it will take for things to not be a sloppy muddy mess so we can get started. Gotta love spring weather in Colorado!

Thanks so reading!

Kim